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This paper investigates the role of statutory health and safety (H&S) regulations in managing construction project risks. The study examines whether the decision made by contractors to comply with the regulations, the cost of compliance and savings of H&S regulatory requirements is influenced by the degree or level of risk, which the regulations are trying to prevent. The rationale for the examination stems from previous studies which establish that building designers and contractors perceive the cost of complying with regulations as additional burdens, which they have to conform to, and which are in some cases unnecessary, and also the fact that construction related injuries and fatalities are on the increase. Qualitative and quantitative data obtained from a descriptive survey and H&S site audit by the Master Builder Association of the Western Cape (MBAWC) were used as the measurements of risk, level of compliance to regulations, cost of compliance and savings. By correlating the quantitative and qualitative data, there is empirical evidence to support a negative relationship between the degree of risk, level and cost of compliance and cost savings. Based on the study’s findings, this paper concludes that the decision made by contractors to comply with H&S regulatory requirements is influenced by the perceived cost saving on account of compliance and that cost savings are influenced by the probability of accident occurrence which is an element of the degree of risk which the regulation is trying to prevent or control.
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